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5 Things to Know About New Vikings DT Harrison Phillips

DT Harrison Phillips
DT Harrison Phillips

The Vikings have added a new defensive tackle via free agency.

Minnesota signed Harrison Phillips, who previously played for Buffalo, the team announced Wednesday.

Originally drafted by the Bills 96th overall in 2018, Phillips has played 45 regular-season games – and made 12 starts – over the past four seasons. In 2021, he started eight of 14 games played and totaled 51 tackles (28 solo), 1.0 sack, a pass defensed and a fumble recovery.

Phillips played in Buffalo's 4-3 system under Defensive Coordinator Leslie Frazier. He will join a Minnesota unit that is expected to utilize multiple fronts under new Vikings Defensive Coordinator Ed Donatell.

Phillips' addition to the Vikings roster came after Tuesday's news that Minnesota had released defensive tackle Michael Pierce.

View photos of new Vikings DT Harrison Phillips who joined the team during free agency.

Here are five things to know about Phillips:

1. Stanford standout

Phillips played for Stanford University, where as a senior in 2017 he racked up team highs in tackles (103), tackles for loss (17) and sacks (7.5).

He earned All-Pac-12 First-Team honors and was named to the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) All-American Second Team. Phillips also was a finalist for the Bobby Bowden Award and the Lott IMPACT Trophy.

Phillips impressed on the football field and in the classroom, alike. He earned his degree with a double major (sociology and science, technology and society), and he minored in education.

2. Multi-sport athlete

If Phillips wasn't in the NFL, his other athletic dream ambition would be making the U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

The big man was a three-time state-champion wrestler at Millard West High School (Omaha), working his way up from 189 pounds as a freshman to winning the Class A 285-pound state title as a senior.

Phillips credits his wrestling background with helping him be a better football player.

"Physically, it helps with my hips, hands, flexibility and violence," he said in his bio with the Buffalo Bills. "Mentally, it helps with my competitive edge. In football, there are many players responsible for every play. In wrestling, you can't blame anyone but yourself. I take that same mentality in the weight room, the meeting room and on the field."

In addition to wrestling and football, Phillips also competed in track and field. He finished second in the state in the discus throw.

3. Pals with Pancho

During his time in Buffalo, Phillips developed a special bond with Bills superfan Ezra "Pancho Billa" Castro, who passed away in May 2019.

Castro announced the Bills selection of Phillips at the 2018 NFL Draft, and the two remained in touch throughout Castro's cancer battle.

In the wake of Castro's passing, Phillips has kept in contact with Castro's family, even sending his children Christmas gifts.

4. Committed to the community

Phillips was selected as the Bills Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee in 2020 and 2021 in recognition of his dedication to the community.

Phillips has a strong relationship with the Playmakers Organization, a nonprofit that supports young people with intellectual disabilities. He also has been heavily involved with Bornhava, a special education school in Buffalo, and Oishei Children's Hospital of Buffalo.

Additionally, Phillips was among five finalists for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award in 2020.

5. "Horrible Harry"

"Horrible Harry," may seem appropriate for the 307-pound defender, but the nickname for the kind-hearted Phillips actually dates back to childhood.

"It wasn't that he was so horrible," Phillips' mother, Tammie Rose Phillips, told The Mercury News in 2017.

Tammie is a retired teacher, who used to read the popular children's book series Horrible Harry, which centers around a third-grader's misadventures.

"His great grandfather was quite a character. He was absolutely a barrel of fun and a great guy, so we named Harrison after him. And then we had a choice between Dirty Harry — you know, Clint Eastwood — which is what they called Grandpa. So we thought, 'Well, we can't go with Dirty Harry, we probably better go with Horrible Harry.'

"So then we read all those books and he loved it and he thought it was funny that he was named that, too," Tammie explained.